Barney had to be put down yesterday. I knew it would be any day now, but when "any day" came I still wasn't prepared for it. For the past half-year he'd been plugging along steadily but eating less, dropping weight, and retreating more. His balance wasn't so good and he'd miss his jump now and again. I knew he was tired. He looked ragged and ruffled and his legs made short, shaky strides. He'd lost half his body weight. I knew it was coming.
He didn't come to greet me after work Monday, and I was a little frantic after finding spot after hiding spot empty. I found him lying under the basement steps unable to get up. Poor thing. We made it over to the vet shortly before they closed. I grieve for the hours he lay exhausted, waiting.
He'd been irritating at times lately, especially his 3:30 AM cry that emanated for no apparent reason. Sometimes it was a squeak, other times a yowl. Regardless it was enough to get me up stomping, before realizing I really did have to hit the restroom anyway.
We had routines that had gradually faded during the past year, but one constant was his habit of draping across my shoulders while I read the morning paper. I'll miss the close-range purr.
I know he was just an animal. But he was routine and comfort and humor and irritation and connection...and for me, all of those are changing.
- The Empty Old Bag